BACKGROUND: Suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning from burning barbecue charcoal has become a common method of suicide in several Asian countries over the last 15 years. The characteristics of people using this method in Western countries have received little attention.
METHOD: We reviewed the inquest reports of 12 English Coroners (11% of all Coroners) to identify charcoal-burning suicides. We compared socio-demographic and clinical characteristics of suicide by charcoal burning occurring between 2005 and 2007 with suicides using other methods in 2005.
RESULTS: Eleven charcoal-burning suicides were identified; people using this method were younger (mean age 33.4 versus 44.8 years, P = 0.02), and more likely to be unemployed (70.0 versus 30.1%, P = 0.01) and unmarried (100 versus 70%, P = 0.04) than those using other methods. Charcoal-burning suicides had higher levels of contact with psychiatric services (80.0 versus 59.1%) and previous self-harm (63.6 versus 53.0%) compared with suicides using other methods, but these differences did not reach conventional levels of statistical significance. Over one-third of people dying by charcoal burning obtained information on this method from the Internet.
CONCLUSIONS: Working with media, including Internet Service Providers, and close monitoring of changes in the incidence of suicide using this method might help prevent an epidemic of charcoal-burning suicides such as that seen in some Asian countries.
- Age Factors
- Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
- Middle Aged
- Young Adult